American Football: Error costs Jets dear as Patriots maintain winning run

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The Independent Online

With the Boston Red Sox beating the New York Yankees to secure a place in baseball's World Series last week, the biggest inter-city rivalry in America continued on the gridiron on Sunday, and once again, Boston prevailed.

The New England Patriots and the New York Jets faced off in Massachusetts, with both teams protecting unbeaten records. There was little in it, but by the finish, the Patriots had hung on, 13-7.

In doing so, they extended their all-time record to 21 consecutive victories.

The Jets had their chances, but to beat the Patriots a team needs to be flawless, and a fumble by Jerald Sowell and a failure to convert a late fourth down play sealed their fate.

"Playing New England is very much like playing chess," said the Jets running-back, Curtis Martin. "When two very good people play chess, the one who makes a mistake loses, and that's what happened today." The only other unbeaten team, the Philadelphia Eagles, suffered a scare, before defeating Cleveland 34-31 in overtime. The game had been dominated by the bitter feud between Cleveland's quarterback, Jeff Garcia, and the Eagles receiver, Terrell Owens, a spat dating back to when they were team-mates together in San Franciso.

Owens, who needed police protection at the game, had the last word with two touchdowns.

While there are only two teams still perfect, the NFL's only winless team, the Miami Dolphins, finally opened their account with a surprise 31-14 stroll past the St Louis Rams. The much-maligned quarterback Jay Fiedler stunned everyone with a pair of long touchdown passes to Randy McMichael and Chris Chambers.

No one was more stunned, however, than the Atlanta Falcons, who went into Kansas City boasting the league's best defence against the run. When the game was over, the Chiefs had gained 271 yards on the ground, and scored eight rushing touchdowns, setting a new all-time record.

Priest Holmes scored four in the first half alone, and when he limped out, Derek Blaylock took over and added a further four in the Chiefs' 56-10 humiliation of their rivals. "I am honoured to be a part of history," said the Falcons coach Jim Mora, with heavy irony. "We have done a tremendous job of stopping the run, so it just emphasised how well they played."